For me, a skeptic is one who wants evidence before accepting something as true. Those who engage in research should be skeptics by this definition. I separate this term with 'pseudoskeptic' however.
The pseudoskeptic is probably what many people think of when they hear or read the term skeptic. The pseudoskeptic is as much a practitioner of beliefs as any so-called 'believer.' The belief system of the pseudosketpic is monastic materialism based in a belief of the supremacy of science. This is not science but is indeed 'scientism', yet another belief system.
So to be a true skeptic according to your definition I need to discard my materialistic world view, even though there is no evidence at all for the existence of a non-material alternative? But by doing that I would violate your definition of what a skeptic is, "one who wants evidence before accepting something as true". All the evidence we have points consistently to the correctness of a materialistic view.
I do think there is much common ground between factions who are indeed 'open-minded', the definition of which is anyone willing to change their belief systems in the presence of reasonable evidence and who avoids deciding on the validity of such evidence solely based on a prior beliefs.
It is not clear to me what you are proposing here. Evidence can be judged indepenently from any belief, but not independently from scientific, methodological rigour - and I somewhat fear that you are implying that this scientific method is also a belief. Correct me if I am wrong. But if I am right, what is the alternative you propose?
Final note: not all evidence can be produced in a lab. Experience counts as evidence as well. In fact, if we are dealing with non-material and non-physical events, it may well be the case that expecting to 'prove' such things materialistically will turn out to have been quite foolish in future retrospect.
Experience may count as evidence, but only if it can at least be made intersubjective, or objectified in another way. The subjective, individual experience as such can never be valid proof in a scientific sense of something paranormal outside the person, because we will never be able to establish where the experience originated, and because it is always possible that the mind itself created it. There are more than a few people in institutions who firmly feel that they are Jesus, or the sun, but the fact that this is their experience doesn't make it true.
If we were dealing with non-material, non-physical events, none of us would have experience of them. But we aren't, just look around on these boards. Paranormal phenomena purportedly manifest themselves in the physical world in countless ways: blurs on photographs, noises on tapes, objects moving, predictions and statements regarding the real world made by so-called mediums. (In fact, the casual supposition that immaterial beings can interact with our material world is one of the most serious problems paranormal believers need to solve, as it uproots all established physics. How does it work?). Of course such things can be very well tested under lab-like conditions.
Lowering the standards of evidence, or worse, tailoring the criteria in such a way as to fit what you have (or rather, what you don't have), is unworthy of any true skeptic, and hence any researcher.
Unless you can enlighten me how you are proposing to gather 'non-material' evidence and judge its validity?
I would recommend Dr. Charles T. Tart's new book "The End of Materialism" for a well-written and highly readable overview on the difference between science and scientism from a scientist who has made it his life's work to follow a spiritual path and truly sees ways that science and spirituality (not religion) can integrate.
I'm always surprised at this strange notion that science and spirituality should somehow be at odds with each other. I find science enormously spiritually uplifting. It brings understanding in a way unmatched by anything else. It triggers deep questions about the origins and meaning of existence (even if it doesn't answer them - but then, neither do all the fashionable 'spiritual' guru's, they only pretend to; - I really do feel that ever since New Age came along the term spirituality has been seriously cheapened, been made into a childish, consumerist plaything. True spirituality, I'd say, lies in an understanding of what science tells us about the universe and our place in it, the nature of reality, and in the effort to find meaning and beauty in that.)
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)